Bad Bill of the Week: Riddle Me This

Riddle:  What’s easy to get into and hard to get out of?

Answer:  The House Majority budget.

There have been 330 amendments to HB 57 in the House Finance Committee. You read that right: 330!

Here’s the breakdown of those that have passed:

  • 0 to REDUCE the budget
  • 5 to INCREASE the budget
  • 4 are NEUTRAL measures
  • $50 million for debt service on school bonds was restored
  • $17 million for REAA was added back in
  • $70 million was moved from one account (UGF) to another (DGF) to look like a reduction. AKA: fake savings

Representatives Wilson, Thompson, Pruitt and Tilton have made valiant attempts to reduce the size and scope of government.

We are thoroughly disappointed in the House Majority’s unwillingness to join them. Instead, they have voted almost exclusively along caucus lines, and thwarted attempts to reduce the budget. Remember, these are the same people who want to implement an income tax.  Apparently, they believe balancing a bloated budget on the backs of Alaskans is an acceptable option. Headlamp disagrees.

The Majority continues to lament the supposed reductions in department budgets in recent years, failing to recognize that a large portion of Alaskans believe the size of government was so out of control that we still have not shrunk our budget to acceptable and sustainable levels, and for good reason.

According to  CommonWealth North’s 2017 report on The State’s Operating Budget, two years ago, the state’s general fund spending was $7 billion (includes UGF and DGF funds). In FY 17, the state’s budget was $5.4 billion. $1.6 billion (22%) has been cut. HOWEVER, of those cuts $636 million came from the capital budget, and $595 million was from the state’s failure to pay oil and gas tax credits. Spending on formula programs like Medicaid and K-12 education (the two largest expenses in the state) has been cut $211 million, while agency operations is down only 8% (a cut of $217 million).

Fundamental reforms to the daily operations of state government have simply not occurred. HB 57 does nothing to help in such reforms, and in fact it pushes the budget back on the path toward growth.

This earns HB 57 its second week in a row as our Bad Bill of The Week.

*These numbers related to amendments were accurate as of Thursday afternoon.